older, also tended to see the press as more adversarial than it should be. Fully 53% of journalists 60 years of age and older took this view compared to 33% of younger media people.
Finally, many but not most journalists think that in covering the personal scandals of politicians, news organizations drive the controversies rather than just report them. As many as 41% of national media respondents subscribed to this view. But 74% of the public and comparably large or larger percentages of the leadership groups sampled think the news media does more than report the news in these instances.
Clinton Coverage... 'B' from the Press, 'C' from the Public
The gulf between the people and the press plays out broadly in the judgments made about coverage of the Clinton Administration. The public is critical of the press, feeling it has made too much of Bill Clinton's character problems and too much of Whitewater. Yet at the same time, many Americans express strong reservations about Bill Clinton's character. The press generally thinks it has done a good job in covering this administration. Moreover, it feels that Bill Clinton has a character problem that has not been over-covered, and Whitewater has been well handled.
A startling 84% of the journalists interviewed from national news organizations felt that the national media saw Clinton's character as weak. Most of these respondents (50% ) believed that coverage of the administration was shaped by this perception, while only a minority (34%) believed that the coverage was not affected by this view of Clinton.
Nonetheless, nearly two-thirds ofjournalists employed by national news organizations denied the charge that Clinton's character problems have been over-covered. Further, a majority feel the press has made neither too much nor too little of Whitewater. Overall, members of both the national media and local news organizations give the press a solid grade of 'B' for its Clinton coverage over all. The press is even given good grades by most of those journalists who think the media coverage of the administration has been shaped by the view that Clinton's character is weak.
The public again sees it differently. They give the press a 'C' grade for Clinton coverage. Fully 65% believe Clinton's character problems have been overdone by the news media. Even two-thirds of Republicans think national news organizations have over-covered Bill Clinton's character problems.